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ARS Home » Plains Area » Houston, Texas » Children's Nutrition Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #390850

Research Project: Microbiota and Nutritional Health

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Animal source foods, rich in essential amino acids, are important for linear growth and development of young children in low- and middle-income countries

item PARIKH, PANAM - Royal Friesland Campina Domo
item SEMBA, RICHARD - Johns Hopkins University School Of Medicine
item MANARY, MARK - Washington University
item SWAMINATHAN, SUMATHI - St John'S Research Institute: Sjri
item UDOMKESMALEE, EMORN - Mahidol University
item BOS, ROLF - Royal Friesland Campina Domo
item POH, BEE KOON - University Of Kebangsaan
item ROJROONGWASINKUL, NIPA - Mahidol University
item GEURTS, JAN - Royal Friesland Campina Domo
item SEKARTINI, RINI - University Of Indonesia Faculty Of Medicine
item NGA, TRAN THUY - National Institute Of Nutrition

Submitted to: Maternal and Child Nutrition
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/2/2021
Publication Date: 8/31/2021
Citation: Parikh, P., Semba, R., Manary, M., Swaminathan, S., Udomkesmalee, E., Bos, R., Poh, B., Rojroongwasinkul, N., Geurts, J., Sekartini, R., Nga, T. 2021. Animal source foods, rich in essential amino acids, are important for linear growth and development of young children in low- and middle-income countries. Maternal and Child Nutrition. 18(1). Article e13264.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Growth faltering under 5 years of age is unacceptably high worldwide, and even more children, while not stunted, fail to reach their growth potential. The time between conception and 2 years of age is critical for development. The period from 6 to 23 months, when complementary foods are introduced, coincides with a time when growth faltering and delayed neurocognitive developments are most common. Fortunately, this is also the period when diet exercises its greatest influence. Growing up in an adverse environment, with a deficient diet, as typically seen in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), hampers growth and development of children and prevents them from realizing their full developmental and economic future potential. Sufficient nutrient availability and utilization are paramount to a child's growth and development trajectory, especially in the period after breastfeeding. This review highlights the importance of essential amino acids (EAAs) in early life for linear growth and, likely, neurocognitive development. The paper further discusses signaling through mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) as one of the main amino acid (AA)-sensing hubs and the master regulator of both growth and neurocognitive development. Children in LMICs, despite consuming sufficient total protein, do not meet their EAA requirements due to poor diet diversity and low-quality dietary protein. AA deficiencies in early life can cause reductions in linear growth and cognition. Ensuring AA adequacy in diets, particularly through inclusion of nutrient-dense animal source foods from 6 to 23 months, is strongly encouraged in LMICs in order to compensate for less than optimal growth during complementary feeding.